Bible Commentaries
Matthew 25

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Verses 1-99

25:1-12. A parable from the Logia.

(L) 1. Then shall the kingdom of the heavens be likened to ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom.—τότε] i.e. at the period of Christ’s coming (24:50).—ὁμοιωθήσεται] i.e. admission into the kingdom will be granted to those who act like the wise virgins of the parable. On εἰς ὑπάντησιν with genitive, see Moulton, 14, note 3.

The scene depicted seems to centre round the house of the bridegroom, who has gone to fetch the bride from her parents’ house. The bride is not mentioned, because she plays no part in the application of the story to Christ returning from heaven. The addition of καὶ τῆς νύμφης, therefore, in D X Σ S1 S3 S4 Arm latt, seems to be a natural but thoughtless interpolation.

(L) 2. And five of them were foolish, and five wise.]

“Like a king of flesh and blood, who distributed kingly garments to his servants. The wise amongst them folded them up and put them in a chest; the foolish of them went and used them for ordinary work,” Shabbath 152b. “Like a king who invited his servants to a feast, and gave them no fixed time. The wise amongst them adorned themselves, and sat at the king’s door, saying, Lacks the king’s house anything? The foolish amongst them went to their work, saying, Is there ever a feast without preparation?” Shabbath 153a.

(L) 3. For the foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them.]

(L) 4. But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.]

(L) 5. And while the bridegroom delayed, all slumbered and slept.]

(L) 6. And in the middle of the night a cry was raised, Behold, the bridegroom! come out to meet him].

(L) 7. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.]

(L) 8. And the foolish said to the wise, Give to us of your oil, because our lamps are going out.]

(L) 9. But the wise answered, saying, There might not be sufficient for us and for you: go rather to the dealers, and buy for yourselves.]

(L) 10. And whilst they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage-feast, and the door was shut.]

(L) 11. And afterwards come also the rest of the virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.]

(L) 12. But he answered and said, Verily I say to you, I know you not.]

(L) 13. Watch therefore, because you know not the day nor yet the hour.

The editor here returns to Mk 35 = Matthew 24:42 after his interpolated parables of illustration, 24:43-25:12. Cf. his similar insertion of a parable, 20:1-15, to illustrate Mark 10:31. There, too, he returns to the text in 20:16.

1. τοῦ νυμφίου] add καὶ τῆς νόμφης, D X Σ, 1 124 209 262 latt S1 S2 S4.

The adaptation of the circumstances of a marriage festival to the coming of the heavenly Christ necessitated the omission of one of the chief actors in an actual marriage ceremony. The story might have been so adapted as to represent the bridegroom as coming to fetch his bride. In that case it would be the latter who would have to represented as waiting for his arrival. But this would not give the required moral. A plurality of waiting persons is demanded, that a division may be made between them. The waiting persons must, therefore, be represented as members of the household of the absent bridegroom, here ten maid-servants. Ten friends or men-servants would have served equally well. The bridegroom has gone to fetch his bride from her Parents house. Obviously in the application of the figure of bridegroom to Christ there is no room for the figure of the bride. For what bride would the heavenly Christ bring from heaven? The bride, therefore, has no interest for the story, and must be omitted. The insertion of καὶ τῆς νύμφης seems to be due to a thoughtless desire to fill in details of the story, and possibly to the influence of the parallel use of bridegroom and bride to denote Christ and the Church; cf. Ephesians 5:22.

9. μήποτε οὐ μὴ�al. א A L Z have οὐκ for οὐ μή; cf. Blass, pp. 213, 255, 256; Moulton, 192.

14. A second parable illustrating the condition of things at the coming of the Son of Man. S. Luke has an independent version of the parable in 19:11-28.

(L) 14. For the case is that of a man travelling abroad, who called his own servants, and delivered to them his possessions.]—ὥσπερ γὰρ ἄνθρωπος�Mark 13:34 ὡ ἄνθρωπος�

(L) 15. And to one he gave five talents, and to one two, and to one one; to each according to his capacity; and set out.]

(L) 16. Forthwith he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five other talents.]

(L) 17. Likewise, also, he of the two gained other two.]

(L) 18. But he who received the one went away and digged in the earth, and hid his master’s money.]

(L) 19. And after a long time cometh the master of those servants, and taketh account with them.]—συναίρειν—λόγον] cf. on 18:23.

(L) 20. And he who had received the five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, five talent thou didst deliver to me; lo, I have gained other five talents.]

(L) 21. His master said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant: over few things thou wert faithful, over many things will I set thee: enter into the joy of thy lord.]—τὴν χαρὰν τοῦ κυρίου σου] cf. “the king rejoiced,” Shabbath 153a 152b.—προσελθών] cf. on 4:3.—προσήνεγκεν] cf. on 8:16.

(L) 22. And he of the two talents came and said, Lord, two talent thou didst deliver to me: lo, I have gained other two talents.]

(L) 23. His master said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant: over few things thou wart faithful, over many I will set thee: enter into the joy of thy lord.]

(L) 24. And he who had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou didst not sow, and gathering whence thou didst not scatter:]

(L) 25. And I feared, and went away and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, thou hast thine own.]

(L) 26. And his master answered and said to him, Evil and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather whence I did not scatter:]

(L) 27. Thou oughtest therefore to have given my money to the changers, and I should have come and received my own with interest.]

(L) 28. Take therefore from him the talent, and give to him who hath the ten talents.]

(L) 29. For to every one who hath there shall be given and increased: but from him who hath not, even what he hath shall be taken from him.] Cf. on 13:12 where the saying is borrowed from Mk. There it seems to have reference to spiritual opportunities, and the use made of them. So here. The man who had ten talents had his chance, and used it. He deserved encouragement. The man who had buried his talent had missed his chance. It was therefore withdrawn from him.

(L) 30. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness: there shall be the wailing and the gnashing of teeth.]

“These shall be bound in prison,” Shabbath 152b Cf. on 8:12.

(L) 31. But when the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He shall sit upon the throne of His glory.] Cf. on 16:27, 19:28; Briggs, Messiah of the Gospels, p. 225.

(L) 32. And there shall be gathered before Him all the nations: and He shall separate them from one another as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.] For expressions in Jewish literature of the idea of a universal judgment, see Volz, Jüd. Eschat, 85.

ἀφορίσει] again in 13:49. In view of the necessary reference of αὐτούς to τὰ ἔθνη, it is impossible to limit the αὐτούς to members of the Jewish Christian community. The Gentiles are judged by the standard of their conduct to Jewish Christians, the τῶν�L) 33. And He shall place the sheep at His right hand, and the goats at the left.] See Hastings, DCG. i. p. 63.

(L) 34. Then shall the King say to those at His right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.]—ὁ βασιλεύς] The change from “Son of Man,” v. 31, to “king” here is very abrupt and unexpected. It looks as though a parable in which “the king” was the central figure had been adapted to refer to the coming of “the Son of Man.”—τὴν ἡτοιμασμένην ὑμῖν βασιλείαν] cf. Daniel 7:27, Secrets of Enoch 9: “For them (the righteous) this place is prepared as an eternal inheritance.”—κληρονομήσατε] For the idea of “inheriting” the future blessedness, cf. Volz, Jüd, Eschat. 306; and for the inheritance as prepared, ib. 124.

(L) 35. For I hungered, and ye gave Me to eat: I thirsted, and ye gave Me to drink: I was a stranger, and ye invited Me in.]

συνηγάγετε] Wellhausen compares אסף. It is possible that כנם was used in this sense. The noun הכנסה is common in the phrase הכנסת ארחים = hospitality, e.g. Shabbath 127a, Peah c. 1.—ἐπείνασα, κ.τ.λ.] cf. Isaiah 58:7, Ezekiel 18:7, To 4:16, Secrets of Enoch 9.

(L) 36. Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited Me: I was in prison, and ye came to Me.]—γυμνός, κ.τ.λ.] Isaiah 58:7, Ezekiel 18:7, To 4:16, Secrets of Enoch 9, 2 Esther 2:20.—ἠσθένησα, κ.τ.λ.], Ecclus 7:35. On the duty of visiting the sick, cf. Nedarim 39. 40: “He who visits not a sick man is as though he shed blood. … Everyone who visits the sick will be saved from the judgement of hell”; Buddhist and Christian Gospels, p. 105, “Whosoever, O monks, would wait upon me, let him wait upon the sick.”

(L) 37. Then the righteous shall answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we Thee hungry, and fed Thee? or thirsty, and gave Thee to drink?]

(L) 38. When saw we Thee a stranger, and invited Thee in t or naked, and clothed Thee?]

(L) 39. When saw we Thee sick, or in prison. and came to Thee?]

(L) 40. And the King shall answer and say to them, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as ye did it to one of the least of these My brethren, ye did it to Me.] Cf. 10:42.

(L) 41. Then sall He say also to those on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye accursed, into the eternal fire, which is prepared for the devil and his angels.] Cf. Secrets of Enoch 10:4-6 “This place is prepared for those who do not honour God — for these this lace is prepared as an eternal inheritance.”—τὸ πῦρ τὸ αἰώνιον] cf. 18:8.—τὸ ἡτοιμασμένον τῷ διαβόλῳ καὶ τοῖς ἁγγέλοις αὐτοῦ] cf. Enoch 10:13 “they (evil angels) will be led off to the abyss of fire.”—τὸ ἡτοιμασμένον] D 1 22 a b c ff1 2 g1 h Iren Orig Hil have ὅ ἡτοίμασεν ὁ πατήρ μου; ff omits καὶ τοῖς�

(L) 42. For I hungered, and ye gave Me not to eat; I thirsted, and ye gave Me not to drink.]

(L) 43. I was a stranger, and ye invited Me not in: naked, and ye clothed Me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited Me not.]

(L) 44. Then shall they also answer and say, Lord, when saw we Thee hungry, or thirsty, or a strang er, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to Thee?]

(L) 45. Then shall He answer them, saying, Forasmuch as ye did it not to one of these least, ye did it not to Me.]

(L) 46. And these shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.] Cf. Daniel 12:2; and for “everlasting life,”see Dalm. Words, 156 ff. This splendid ending (vv. 31-46) of the long discourse reads like a Christian homily.

L the Matthæan Logia.

X passages in which Mt. and Lk. agree closely, borrowed from an unknown source or sources.

S Syriac version: Sinaitic MS.

S Syriac version: Peshitta.

S Syriac version: Harclean.

S Syriac version: Curetonian.

al i.e. with other uncial MSS.

DCG. Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels.

Dalm. Dalman.

Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Matthew 25". International Critical Commentary NT. 1896-1924.